Skip to main content


» High Performing Teams

Ask, Don’t Tell - How Agile Leaders Nurture High-Performing Teams

One of the most underutilized tools in the Agile Leaders toolkit is the question. Asking great questions is a powerful way to lead and to nurture high performing teams. Done well, this style of leadership moves from directing, telling and commanding to one of curiosity, learning, and adaptation. And it is a style that anyone can learn to use effectively.

Best Size for My Agile Team? High Performing Teams' Magic Number

I recently compiled a list of all the teams I had trained and coached since I began coaching in 2012. Turns out that I have helped over 90 teams from 19 companies so far. Wow! Even I had not realized the number was so high.

The teams I trained or coached vary in many ways - technology, industry, company size, and product just to name a few. The culture and diversity of the teams is also all over the board. Some teams were just OK, and some were truly high performing teams. And the team sizes vary quite a bit, from teams as small as four to teams as large as 13.

How Slack Time, Experimentation & Learning Grow High Performing Teams

One question that I get frequently from leaders during Agile training is about how to make sure everyone is busy. How do we make sure that we are getting the most out of every person? They have a seemingly perverse focus on individual efficiency rather than on team effectiveness and throughput. Rather than focusing on creating an environment for high performing teams, they try to make sure that everyone is busy all the time. This is another form of local optimization.

Motivated Individuals: Your Champions for High Performing Teams

The 5th Agile Principle says to hire motivated people and empower and trust them. The opposite of this would be to hire unmotivated people and to disempower and micromanage them. Is it just me or is that what happens quite frequently in organizations?

Fear Has To Go for High Performing Teams To Succeed

How pervasive is fear in our workplaces? Take a moment and think about your own company. Are people mostly fear free, or mostly fearful?

I ran into fear recently when working with a client new to Agile. We were talking about how Agile worked with teams. A team member asked a simple question that provided some insights into their thinking. He asked what was the punishment for teams that did not finish all their work planned for the Sprint.

How Important is it to Co-Locate Agile Teams?

I've been an advocate for co-located teams for quite some time.  However, I seem to be in the minority when pushing for co-location.  Am I crazy for thinking that if we put people together, we will get better results?  Am I the only one who believes that co-location is an essential ingredient to high performing teams?

Agile Teams: Deciding What to Measure

In my previous post, I talked about some of the ways that Agile leaders foster incorrect behaviors by measuring the wrong things. The recent shenanigans at Wells Fargo serve as a great example of what can go wrong when measurements are set up poorly.

Improve Team Productivity - Stop Measuring the Wrong Things

Poorly chosen measurements can lead to undesirable results. Last week Wells Fargo hit the news with stories about corporate fines, employees fired, and $1.4B in market capitalization being wiped out. All of this was because the company was tracking and rewarding employees for opening new customer accounts.

On The Benefits of Long-Standing Teams - High Performing Teams

If your goal was to create a high performing team, how would you go about it?  Would you keep changing the team members or would you keep the team members stable?

Most organizations take the former approach. They move people around from one team to another without much consideration for the impact on team performance. Or they assign the same person to multiple teams. They don't treat teams as more than the sum of their parts.  And they underestimate the time it takes to build a high-performing team.

Creating Conditions Favorable to High-Performing Agile Teams

In my previous post on High Performing Teams, I shared a framework for team maturity from the Jon Katzenbach book, The Wisdom of Teams.  That post outlined 5 levels of team maturity and performance, with High-Performance Team at the top of the list. The teams in the high-performance category shared a number of traits including a focus on performance, diversity, accountability, and team members' investment in each other.